The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker

By Kerry Wilkinson

 

 

Upon reading the The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker I thought it sounded a lot like 13 Minutes. I liked that one okay but it didn’t really hold my interest. This one sounded like it might be one I liked more and I was right. My YA reader and I really enjoyed how this story unfolded. The story was well written, fully developed and had many moments where the reader’s imagination was really stretched to think beyond the normal mystery. It has some supernatural feels and that is what made us like it. The characters seemed realistic and ones you had to keep reading about. You had to know what was going to happen next. The author is new to us and we will have to check out her other books to see if they are just as good. I really enjoyed this mystery – coming of age book. My YA reader and I thought this would be a good movie or mini series on Netflix. Overall we thought this was a perfect Spooktober book to read if you can wait that long.

About the book: A village with something to hide. Seventeen-year-old Eleanor Parker wakes up cold and alone in the river that twists through her quiet village. She has no memory of how she got there. But she does know that another girl was drowned in the same river the summer before, held under the water by an unknown killer…

A community torn apart. Eleanor is a normal, every day teenager. She argues with her mum, spends her days with her best friend, and is looking forward to a carefree summer of sunshine and music. Who would want to hurt her?

A shocking secret. Determined to unlock the mystery of what really happened to her, Eleanor can’t escape the feeling that something awful links her to the previous summer’s murder. But will she find out the truth before it’s too late?

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker.  All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

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When Elephants Fly

by Nancy Richardson Fischer

Publication Date: September 4 2018

Buy the Book (or put on hold at your local library! I don’t get any $$ if you click and buy from links) AmazonBarnes and Noble

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This book – oh my stars this book not only got me out of a reading slump but I feel for this book hard. I finished it in less than 24 hours. I couldn’t stop reading it and when I got to tired to read I got up way before the sun so I could read some more. Now I’m sad because I’m done reading it. This book tackles so much from mental illness and suicide ( Lily’s), a wonderful best friend of Lily that is tired of not living his true self and comes out to his parents (who btw are total butt heads. I’d call them worse but don’t want to be flagged with all the cuss words) the plight of elephants in the wild, it also touches base on the abuse some captive elephants experience at the hands of less than ethical in my opinion handlers in the zoo and circus setting. I know the author worked for the biggest circus in the USA but I’m very against circus maybe Ringling didn’t use these tactics but I just don’t agree with circus acts in general. Okay now on to this amazing book!

Lily’s life hasn’t been a normal kid upbringing. Her mom had paranoid schizophrenia and when Lily was 7 her mom tried to kill her. Her mom was obsessed with Peter Pan and thought they could fly to Neverland. Lucky for Lily the police officer that was on the roof with her dad grabbed her as her mom threw her off the roof. What had stayed in the back of Lily’s mind was her dad saved the mom and not her. He also saved the mom many times by ignoring all the abuse Lily experienced leading up to that fateful night on the roof. Lily is terrified that she will become her mom since it is genetic and pretty much all the women in her mom’s family have schizophrenic to some degree. So she leans on her best friend Sawyer to administer quizzes to make sure she isn’t starting to develop it as well as make sure she sticks to her 12 year plan to avoid all triggers leading up to age 30. Sawyer is always there for her but really needs Lily to be there for him as well. He is living a lie and wants to just be the true Sawyer he is. He finally comes out to his parents and is kicked out of the house. One thing I wish the author had done with Sawyer was not make him so rich. When his parents kicked him out he was able to look at all these uber expensive apartments and moved out fine. Most teens that come out to there parents and are kicked out end up homeless or live in shelters unless they have family that will take them in. This I think would have made the book a 5 star for me if she had explored what really happens with most LGBTQPIA teens.

Swifty the baby elephant that is the center of the book and Lily’s story gives a lot of data on both African and Asian elephants in the wild and in captivity. Many zoo’s and refuges try to breed elephants to keep the numbers rising instead of decreasing like they are in the wild. Many times with any zoo breeding the baby isn’t accepted and even killed. This is what happens to Swifty Swift Jones (Sawyer donated 100,000 to the name the baby elephant contest and named the elephant after his favorite pop star. See what I mean about him from a very rich family). Because of a deal the zoo keeper made with the circus for the male  elephant specimen if Swifty mom doesn’t accept her Swifty because property of the circus. Property is all Swifty and the other animals are they are worked, kept in unsafe and unsanitary environments and abused to get them to perform. The rest of the book is Lily realizing that volunteering at the local town paper as a means to an end to get int USC journalism department is more  than that. She loves Swifty and she might not be able to save herself from her fate but she can save Swifty from her’s!

This is where I’ll end because if I talk anymore I’m going to give away the whole book. 🙂 When Elephants Fly was an amazing book that really tugged at my heartstrings. I loved Sawyer and Lily and really wanted them to be okay with the hand they have been dealt. I loved that these 2 lost souls had each other because everyone needs someone who will back them up no matter what. They have their ups and downs but in the end they have each other. While they didn’t get to pick their families they did find each other and became their own little family.

I gave this book 4 stars because I think it would have been more realistic if Sawyer wasn’t able to have all the money in the world to find a place to stay when his butt head dad kicked him out of the house for coming out as been gay.

Also this is a YA book but I did give this to my 7th grader. There was a few small not in detail adult scenes but nothing she hasn’t seen on Pretty Little Liars.

About the book: T. Lily Decker is a high school senior with a twelve-year plan: avoid stress, drugs, alcohol and boyfriends, and take regular psych quizzes administered by her best friend, Sawyer, to make sure she’s not developing schizophrenia. Genetics are not on Lily’s side. When she was seven, her mother, who had paranoid schizophrenia, tried to kill her. And a secret has revealed that Lily’s odds are even worse than she thought. Still, there’s a chance to avoid triggering the mental health condition, if Lily can live a careful life from ages eighteen to thirty, when schizophrenia most commonly manifests. But when a newspaper internship results in Lily witnessing a mother elephant try to kill her three-week-old calf, Swifty, Lily can’t abandon the story or the calf. With Swifty in danger of dying from grief, Lily must choose whether to risk everything, including her sanity and a first love, on a desperate road trip to save the calf’s life, perhaps finding her own version of freedom along the way.

Thank you so very much Harlequin Teen for sending me this amazing book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Where the Watermelons Grow

by Cindy Baldwin

 

Where the Watermelons Grow deals with a tough subject that isn’t really out there much for middle grade and upper elementary grade readers mental illness. This book is heavy and can be too much for some readers, so you might want to read it before you hand it to your reader if you think it might a trigger. I really think readers ages middle grade through adult will enjoy this heart breaking book that really touched and has stayed with me. I just wanted to go into the book and give Della a huge hug. She is such a sweet strong girl who is facing so much in her life. I think this is one of those books that could help kids that are dealing with tough situations at home. They could see that they are not the only one’s that are dealing with these issues or similar ones. I know some are saying it could be for as young at 3rd grade but I really think for me at least this is an upper elementary and above. The story is well written, the characters are fully developed and the story is one that will touch every reader. I couldn’t believe this was a debut novel from the author. I can’t wait to see what Cindy Baldwin writes next.  Grab this book from your local library or book store and read a wonderful book this summer!

About the book: When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren’t there, Della worries that it’s happening again—that the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be hospitalized for months like she was last time.

With her daddy struggling to save the farm and her mama in denial about what’s happening, it’s up to Della to heal her mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville, North Carolina, for generations.

But when the Bee Lady says that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain and more to do with healing her own heart, Della must learn that love means accepting her mama just as she is.

Thank you HarperCollins and Cindy Baldwin for allowing me to read Where the Watermelons Grow. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

The Museum of Us

by Tara Wilson Redd

 

 

I just couldn’t connect with this book and set it aside for another time. I will give it a second read but for now it just wasn’t holding my attention. Looking on Goodreads before I posted this showed that it has a lot of mixed reviews so I guess I’m not the only one on the fence for this one. Grab a copy from your library and give it a try you might like it.

Trigger Warnings: Mental Illness and Cutting

 

About the book:  Sadie loves her rocker boyfriend Henry and her running partner and best friend Lucie, but no one can measure up to her truest love and hero, the dazzling and passionate George. George, her secret.
When something goes wrong and Sadie is taken to the hospital calling out for George, her hidden life may be exposed. Now she must confront the truth of the past, and protect a world she is terrified to lose.

Thank you Wendy Lamb books and Random House for sending me a copy of The Museum of Us. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

We’ll Fly Away

by Bryan Bliss

 

I’m broken this book is so heartbreaking but a must read. I knew when I read the description this one going to be an emotional roller coaster ride but sometimes you need to read those hard-hitting books. You learn from them, grow as a reader and those characters are the ones that touch you and stay with you long after you finish the book. The author doesn’t hold back anything in this book. It deals with child abuse, poverty, justice system, friendships and so much more. This isn’t a book that you would say oh my gosh I loved it and will read it again and again. It is a very emotional book one that will never leave you after your finished. Would I recommend this to other readers: Absolutely!!! Do I think it would be a good book to read in a high school English , current events or sociology class: Absolutely!!! We’ll Fly Away needs to be read. It explores so much that goes on in day to day society that is often overlooked because it’s messy and not Instagram perfect. This book is raw and there will be tears shed. I loved reading the letters that Luke writes Toby on death row. Luke and Toby are best friends and they know everything that is going on in each other’s lives. They are there for each other and know what their home lives are really like. These two have each others back through the anger and abuse and neglect they get at home. They depend on each other and then one rash in the moment act can destroy all they are working towards.

I really hope everyone gets a chance to pick this book up and read it. The only things I might change was maybe not make the abuse and neglect in a poverty-stricken household. I really wish that he hadn’t classified it as anything let the reader decide. They are often portrayed as angry and abusive in books. When I was in high school I was friends with a boy who was abused at home till he finally told someone. Guess what: they were one of the richest families at our school. Money doesn’t mean anything people are people and abuse and neglect happens in all income ranges. I think I understand why he did it in that income range to show that they had to struggle and they couldn’t just buy their way out of their situation and life.  Either way it didn’t take away from my reading. I would rate this a 5 star book it’s heartbreaking but you will connect with Luke and Toby but don’t forget to grab some Kleenex’s. They should have a deal where you get a box of Kleenex’s free when you buy this book – since your going to need them!  I would say this is a YA book there are heavy topics and not for a middle grade reader unless you read it first and decide if it is okay for your middle grade reader.

About the book: Uniquely told through letters from death row and third-person narrative, Bryan Bliss’s hard-hitting third novel expertly unravels the string of events that landed a teenager in jail. Luke feels like he’s been looking after Toby his entire life. He patches Toby up when Toby’s father, a drunk and a petty criminal, beats on him, he gives him a place to stay, and he diffuses the situation at school when wise-cracking Toby inevitably gets into fights. Someday, Luke and Toby will leave this small town, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, and never look back.

But during their senior year, they begin to drift apart. Luke is dealing with his unreliable mother and her new boyfriend. And Toby unwittingly begins to get drawn into his father’s world, and falls for an older woman. All their long-held dreams seem to be unraveling. Tense and emotional, this heartbreaking novel explores family, abuse, sex, love, friendship, and the lengths a person will go to protect the people they love. For fans of NPR’s Serial podcast, Jason Reynolds, and Matt de la Peña.

Thank you so much Greenwillow Books and Harper Collins Children for sending me a copy of We’ll Fly Away.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and not influenced by the free book.

The Midnights

by Sarah Nicole Smetana

 

For me The Midnights was good and enjoyable. The cover is eye catching and makes you want to pick that book up at the bookstore or library.  I think high school teen me would have eaten this book up and loved every moment of it. Mom me was just wanting to step in and tell her stop doing some of her risky behavior stuff. It is full of family, hope, loss, grief and finding yourself again, and music. If you are not a big music lover or listener than this might not be the book for you. Susannah and her dad share a bond through the music he creates in the garage studio. She feels close to him and loves being a part of his world, even though sometimes he is so wrapped up into his own world he doesn’t even notice he has a family. The unthinkable happens and her whole live is turned upside down and she is going to have to find who Susannah is again. The Midnights is full of teen angst and learning and growing. Would I suggest this to YA readers? Absolutely, I will caution that this book is very YA and not for middle grade readers like some YA books. The book contains more adult situations that younger YA readers don’t need to read about just yet. Having said that I think that being a bit more adult YA makes this a great book for an adult who maybe wants to give YA a try but not wanting a younger feeling book. This book is perfect for John Green and/or Sarah Dessen fans. The Midnights would be a great book to read over spring or summer break, and I hope you like it. I can’t wait to see what the author writes next.

About the book: Susannah Hayes has never been in the spotlight, but she dreams of following her father, a former rock star, onto the stage. As senior year begins, she’s more interested in composing impressive chord progressions than college essays, certain that if she writes the perfect song, her father might finally look up from the past long enough to see her. But when he dies unexpectedly her dreams—and her reality—shatter.

While Susannah struggles with grief, her mother uproots them to a new city. There, Susannah realizes she can reinvent herself however she wants: a confident singer-songwriter, member of a hip band, embraced by an effortlessly cool best friend. But Susannah is not the only one keeping secrets, and soon, harsh revelations threaten to unravel her life once again.

Thank you Booksparks and HarperTeen for allowing me to read The Midnights. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Strong Inside: The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line

Young Reader’s Edition

by Andrew Maraniss

 

So many times it’s hard to get non fiction books into the hands of young readers. I know many love non fiction – my middle grade reader really only likes non fiction. So many though don’t, but that is changing thanks to Young Reader’s Edition books. They take a popular adult non fiction and give a detailed but condensed version of the book with younger reader’s in mind. My middle grader reader and I have read many Young Reader’s Editions and have enjoyed them so much we’ve seeked out the adult book as well .

Strong Inside The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line follows Perry Wallace through out his young school days through his college years. This book is a sport biography but also a historical biography as well. He grew up in an era that was full of racism and people who didn’t want to see him succeed. He didn’t let them hold him back. He had a dream, the talent and the strength and character that took all the way! There is some tough language in here. The author has a note in the beginning saying to whitewash the language would be a disservice and I agree. We need to read about this time in history, we can not forget or go back to that era. If generations going up know don’t know about it history repeats itself. Perry Wallace is one I hope many kids will read about and look up to. He would be an excellent role model that I used his good heart, brains and talent and made something of himself. It wasn’t handed to him on a silver platter. He had to work 10 times harder than most high school and college players but he didn’t let that stop him.  He was not only talent on the basket ball court but he was also very well-known in the courthouse as well. He became a trial attorney and worked with environmental law. He was appointed Environmental Policy Advisory Council by the EPA but also a professor at American University Washington College of Law. I enjoyed this book very much and was quite surprised I’m not a sports gal but he was such an inspiring man! If you have a sports minded boy reader, reluctant reader or a non fiction book-worm hand them a copy of Strong Inside. Don’t be surprised if this one doesn’t stay on your bookshelves much. I have a filling this will be a very popular book choice for upper elementary, middle grade and high school readers.

About the book: The inspirational true story of the first African-American to play college basketball in the deeply segregated Southeastern Conference–a powerful moment in Black history.

Perry Wallace was born at a historic crossroads in U.S. history. He entered kindergarten the year that the Brown v. Board of Education decision led to integrated schools, allowing blacks and whites to learn side by side. A week after Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Wallace enrolled in high school and his sensational jumping, dunking, and rebounding abilities quickly earned him the attention of college basketball recruiters from top schools across the nation. In his senior year his Pearl High School basketball team won Tennessee’s first racially integrated state tournament.

The world seemed to be opening up at just the right time, and when Vanderbilt University recruited Wallace to play basketball, he courageously accepted the assignment to desegregate the Southeastern Conference. The hateful experiences he would endure on campus and in the hostile gymnasiums of the Deep South turned out to be the stuff of nightmares. Yet Wallace persisted, endured, and met this unthinkable challenge head on. This insightful biography digs deep beneath the surface to reveal a complicated, profound, and inspiring story of an athlete turned civil rights trailblazer.

Thank you Puffin books for sending me a copy of Strong Inside. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.